Three months before beginning their defense of their Women’s World Cup title, American players escalated their legal dispute with the U.S. Soccer Federation over equal treatment and pay.
Players filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the federation Friday, which was International Women’s Day, alleging ongoing “institutionalized gender discrimination” that includes unequal pay with their counterparts on the men’s national team.
The women’s team has often championed equal rights issues and sought more equitable pay during collective bargaining two years ago.
“I think a lot of people look to us and our team and the collective voice that we have and what we’ve stood for, for inspiration and for power, and as an ally in this broader fight for equality and human rights, really,” said winger Megan Rapinoe, a Redding native who is co-captain and veteran of 149 international appearances.
The 28 members of the current women’s player pool filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The lawsuit seeks class-action status. Players seek damages that include back pay.
The U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association is not party to the lawsuit but said in a statement it “supports the plaintiffs’ goal of eliminating gender-based discrimination by USSF.”
The USSF did not have an immediate comment. It has long maintained that any disparity is the result of the men’s and women’s teams having separate collective bargaining agreements, meaning their pay is structured differently. That means there is no dollar-to-dollar salary comparison.
The lawsuit claims that from March 2013 through Dec. 31, 2016, when the previous collective bargaining agreement expired, players on the women’s team could make a maximum salary of $72,000, plus bonuses for winning non-tournament games as well as World Cup appearances and victories, and for Olympic placement.
Anne M. Peterson is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Women-s-national-soccer-team-players-sue-for-13675308.php.